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Tips for Protecting Your Foundation

A foundation is something that is often overlooked – after all, only the house is visible, and there usually seems to be no need for concern. But there are many things happening behind the scenes of your house and even though the foundation is the strongest part, sometimes it needs help to remain stable. So here are a few measures you can take to help protect your foundation from becoming damaged, and ensure it will support your house:

  1. Water trees that are close to your house. Just one tree can absorb up to 150 gallons of water every day from the soil. If the trees near your house are not watered enough, they will take any water that might be in the soils around your foundation, causing these soils to become dry and shrink.
  2. Ensure you have the proper drainage. Landscaping/gardens should have room for proper drainage and should be on slopes leading downwards, so that the water will drainaway from your foundation. A good guideline is for the ground to slope away from a foundation about 6″ every 10′ horizontally (ref: Easy Digging). Also, make certain all drains, such as rain gutters, extended drain pipes, French drains and other types of drainage are functioning correctly. If after a storm – or any time – there are puddles of water around your foundation, you can fill these spots with dirt/gravel after removing the water to help control the moisture. Water remaining idle can be damaging for many reasons, especially if these places are near your foundation. If there is water standing in your yard in certain spots, consider installing a French Drain or a Dry Well.
  3. Consider landscaping on every side (if possible) of your foundation. If you have a garden on one side of your house, then you will probably end up watering that side more often, causing the soil on that side of the house to swell significantly, pushing against the foundation and causing imbalance. Watering equally on all sides of your foundation is important to maintain moisture balance.
  4. Do not plant trees or shrubs too close to your house. Small trees should be planted no less than 8‘ to 10‘ from your house and larger trees, depending on their size, should be farther away. If trees/shrubs are planted too close to a house, the roots can damage the foundation. Also, these plants – if not watered enough – can use up all of the water around the foundation, causing soil shrinkage.

    House overgrown with plants. (Source: WikipediaCC BY-SA)

  5. Make sure rain gutters and downspouts are cleaned occasionally (at least twice a year), so they transport water away from a foundation. Also, make certain there are no cracks or other damages to the pipes which would prevent them from working correctly. If these drains become clogged with debris, water is trapped and will overflow directly beside the foundation, which can be damaging. When cleaning gutters, it is important to always dispose of the debris or make sure it is moved away from the foundation to prevent water from pooling.

(Ref: Moon Works Home).

If you suspect your foundation has suffered problems or you notice signs of settlement from the elements, an inspection can be arranged to determine what the underlying problem is and what will correct it.